[BTW] re: the above M-107 image. It looks pretty, but can anyone tell me why NASA releases photos with ‘star filters’ (4-point in this case) applied? Nice for wall posters, but useless for actual work!
the next rover needs a rover-dog trick – the ability to shake to clean itself – as I see lots of debris; it’s going to be collecting enough intentional material no need to weight itself down with other deposits.
@Cat-eyes: the doggie ‘shiver’ would’ve been handy for Spirit and Opportunity, whose solar panels depended on a smart Martian breeze to get the dust off. Curiosity is 238Plutonium (non-fissile) isotope powered though… No solar panels.
Talcum-powder fine dust is probably a major pain-in-the-processor for any robot on the Martian surface. How do you keep the camera lenses clean for instance?
For larger debris, I think a little ‘robo-dance’ might work to get rid of a stray rock or two.
It seems to me an ideal application of some kind of bio-mimicry, but I kind of think the doggie-shiver might be a little off-base. More likely some sort of chemical treatment to keep dust from adhering to the surface in the first place. As for the camera lenses, maybe retractable dust caps or if that doesn’t work, mini-wipers?
Somehow I think the JPL team is likely way ahead of us on these ideas.
Max: I think you’re right about JPL. They’ve had since Viking I (1976) to worry about the Mars-dust issue, which I’m sure is quite ubiquitous.
We know Curiosity has transparent lens caps as the first photos returned to Earth showed the dust on them before they were removed. Since dust storms are a common threat, the caps must be replaceable as well… to keep the lenses from being sand-blasted (and ruined) in a storm.
Curiosity is currently ‘changing its mind’ as its software is being switched from EDL mode to surface rover mode. Essentially like installing a new operating system.
all right already – it was simply the name rover and the fact that I work with dogs that led me to the doggie shake. It did cross my mind that the whole thing shaking was very likely a very bad idea. But, you got the gist.
T]hink about a dog’s skin. You know how loose it is? I had previously thought the main purpose of loose dog skin was so that they would look funny on UpsideDownDogs.com. But it turns out there is another more important reason. Because the skin is loose, it can whip around farther and faster than the backbone can. The skin, to which the fur is attached, travels at three times the speed of the backbone, which, according to the math, generates nine times as much force on the water droplets, helping fling them off. That’s the magic of the mammal shake.